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Darwin Correspondence Project

To John Murray   14 May [1859]

Down Bromley Kent

May 14th

My dear Sir

I highly approve of the specimen sheet. I am sorry to hear the Book will be so big. Moreover please observe that I estimated the last chapter at 3000 words. I have now written half & the number is this much, & I think the chapter will run into 6000 or 7000 words.— I am sorry for my blunder. This may make you put another line in each page.—

You may rely on it, that my extreme wish for my health sake to get the subject temporarily out of my head, will not make me slur over the proofs: I will do my utmost to improve my style.

I am rather alarmed at what you hinted in a previous note about proper period of publication: for I am very anxious to have it published as soon as can be, as to my knowledge two men are already writing more or less on subject, starting from the foundation of my Paper in Linn. Journal.1 But as I do not know what proper periods are; how long it will take me to correct proofs &c. it is superfluous as yet to consider this. But I know I must be amenable to reason.

Please to observe that I shall be guided in number of copies which I take for private distribution by cost; so that I may not take the 100, perhaps only 50.

I shall send before long to you a simple diagram, which must be engraved on folding sheet on copper as it will have to referred to more than once.—2

Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


CD’s comments make it unlikely that he was referring to Alfred Russel Wallace: he probably meant Joseph Dalton Hooker (Hooker 1859) and Asa Gray (A. Gray 1858–9). He may also have had Hewett Cottrell Watson in mind. See letter to J. D. Hooker, [26 May 1859].
The fold-out diagram illustrating the principle of divergence was inserted between pp. 116 and 117 of Origin.


Gray, Asa. 1858–9. Diagnostic characters of new species of phænogamous plants, collected in Japan by Charles Wright, botanist of the US North Pacific Exploring Expedition … With observations upon the relations of the Japanese flora to that of North America, and of other parts of the northern temperate zone. [Read 14 December 1858 and 11 January 1859.] Memoirs of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences n.s. 6: 377–452.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.


Approves specimen sheet [of Origin]. Sorry book will be so long. Has now written half of last chapter; it is as long as his estimate of the entire chapter. Now thinks it will run to 6000 or 7000 words. Will do his utmost to improve his style. Anxious to publish soon; he knows of two men already writing on the subject, starting from his Linnean Society paper ["On the tendency of species to form varieties", Collected papers 2: 3–19]. Will send a diagram for the book.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
John Murray
Sent from
Source of text
National Library of Scotland (John Murray Archive) (Ms.42152 ff.40–40A)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2462,” accessed on 22 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7